Defibrillator training at Coquitlam district high schools will 'save lives'

"No pulse."

With those frightening words, Terry Fox teacher and first aid attendant Casey Kingman and three Fox PE teachers were galvanized into action.

Thanks to their CPR and defibrillator training, Kingman and her colleagues Vern Fedorak, Brad Peterson, and John Murphy were able to resuscitate a Grade 9 student who had suffered a cardiac arrest during PE last February.

The boy's cardiologist later told the teachers that the youth would have died without their intervention and on Tuesday, the four teachers were honoured during a demonstration of defibrillator training at Port Moody secondary.

Kingman said the experience was "surreal" and proved how useful the equipment and training is for staff and students.

"You can use AED and CPR training anywhere," Kingman said.


On Tuesday at Port Moody secondary school, a group of Grade 10 students demonstrated their CPR training and practiced using an automatic external defibrillator (AED) in a presentation marking the beginning of a new training program that will see 2,500 students trained by their teachers each year in how to use defibrillators and perform CPR.

The project is a partnership with the ACT (Advanced Coronary Treatment) Foundation. In an interview with the Tri-City News, ACT executive director Sandra Clarke said SD43 has been given 40 AED training mannequins and training defibrillators thanks to funding from RBC, AstraZeneca Canada, Pfizer Canada and Sanofi. Meanwhile, BC Emergency Health Services and the BC Ambulance Service have provided funding and training to 60 teachers across the district.

"It's ensuring all students are empowered to save a life," explained Clarke, who said SD43 was one of the first districts in Canada to train Grade 10 students on CPR using the "train the trainer" model when it partnered with ACT about five years ago.

Now, defibrillator training will also be part of the Grade 10 curriculum for students at Centennial, Dr. Charles Best, Gleneagle, Heritage Woods, PMSS, Pinetree, Riverside, Terry Fox in the public school system and at Archbishop Carney secondary.


"We're very excited. They were one of the first to start CPR [training], now they're one of the first to start the defibrillator program," Clarke said.

While AEDs are easy to use, with voice prompts informing people what to do, it helps to get some training, Clarke said, because students gain more confidence in dealing with an emergency. Her agency has dozens of success stories about teens saving a life, although the youths rarely take credit,usually saying they were just doing what their teacher told them to do, Clarke said.

In fact, having students trained in CPR and the use of an AED can mean the difference in life or death for people who suffer cardiac arrest at home or in public because the quicker the procedures can be applied, the higher the survival rates.

According to a spokesperson from the BC Ambulance Service, paramedics attend between 2,400 and 2,800 cardiac arrests a year, with a 12% survival rate. But Peter Thorpe, executive director of metro operations, said the survival rate goes up with the combination of a call to 911, CPR training and the application of a defibrillator.

"Really, it increases the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest," Thorpe said.

To find out more, go to YouTube and look up "Rescue video 2013 TheACTFoundation."


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